Game thoughts

Submitted by michgoblue on September 1st, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Well, that wasn't fun. If most of is are honest, we will admit that after reading brian (ace)'s game preview, this result was not expected. The game starts at the lines, and the mismatch of bama's death unit of an o-line allowed them to pretty much run at will. That team is just too stacked, and we are simply not yet fully re-loaded. It will be 2-3 years before hoke's recuiting reloads us to the point where we are at least close in talent to a team like this. Some random thougts and observations:

1. People will inevitably talk about how we were slaughtered at every aspect of the game. And we were. But, we played a team that could probably beat a crappy NFL team. Take nothing away from this other than that we do my have nearly the talent of Alabama, perhaps the most talented team in the history of cfb with 6 years of saban recruiting and over-signing. This has little relevance to how we will perform against almost any othe team that we will face.

2. RB - the drop off from fitz to smith or rawls is significant. We simply have no running game without fitz. If he plays, we still lose, but we look a lot better on offense. Watching bama's backs, I couldn't help but be jealous. These guys are studs and reinforce why hoke likes his backs to be bigger. These guys rarely went down on first contact other than D. Hart.

3. WR - I like devin here. A lot. He is raw as hell and his routes are sloppy, but man the potential is there. He and Gallon were the only receivers whoanaged to ge open, and devin did so repeatedly. Hands need work (and some of the throws to him were not the best) but this could be a huge benefit to us. Other than these two, however, we need help here. Hopefully the freshmen will push for some playing time.

4. Penalties - Lewan, come on man, don't go all 2010 on us. Bot that it made a huge difference but those penalties hurt us. I am willin to chalk it up to first game jitters against a way superior opponent, but let's hope that it doesn't become a habit.

5. Norfleet - wow. Kid can fly. Why was he not at least getting some reps at rb? He is goin to take a few to the house, I think. The Brian cook hype train seems justified here.

6. Denard - yeah, his numbers weren't amazing, but he actualy looked like a qb. Some throws were off, but a lot of that is the result of a scary, insane defense throwing NFL packages at him. He won't face that again, and having done so, he will likely be unfazed by what he does see. I may be in the minority, but I was encouraged by his play. As for his lack of rushing, thee were simply no holes for him.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. anyone agree/ disagree/ have anything to add?



September 1st, 2012 at 11:43 PM ^

Well, I'm glad that we sat Toussaint.  We now have the moral high ground, AND we can reasonably say it would be a completely different game if he suited up.  Right?  .... right?


September 1st, 2012 at 11:47 PM ^

A different game, perhaps, bit the outcome - and perhaps the score - would have been the same. The only difference is that we could have actually taken some pressure off of Denard and run our actual offense with a contributing ground game. Smith is a great team guy and a great blocker but against any real defense, he just can't produce. Not insulting the guy, but the results have been the same for 3 years. He just is not that good of a rb against better teams.

As for Rawls, it is still early, but he looks to be a typical bull moose of a back that can ground out 3 yards on the ground routinely but who will be brought down behind the LOS frequently as well. You need those guys, but I am not sure he will ever be a feature back. I am still hoping that either Hayes or Norfleet emerge a the fitz backup.


September 1st, 2012 at 11:54 PM ^

The problem with Rawls is that he was used very poorly in my opinion.  He's not gonna be effective running sweeps out to the edge.  You can't run angry if you're running away from the contact.  And Smith is not going to be anything more or less than he was last year.  Without Fitz and with Borges presumably babying Denard the run game is just too predictable.  We just did not put our best foot forward on Offense.


September 2nd, 2012 at 12:27 AM ^

My wife said to me during the game "you are always bitching that they run him too much!".

There is a difference between running him too much and runnig him 5-7 times.  Either Al was convinced that we couldn't run him successfully or he was enamoured with what he would love to do in the future with a QB.   Benard is not a pure passer - same as Tim Tebow - and they ignored that potential in the game plan IMO.

The last QB that "took 'Bama to school" was Cam Newton and Al seemed like he was game-planning for Tom Brady as QB.  Not that I think it would have made a difference.

'Bama outclassed us (by about 1 full class per and it showed.

I have great hopes for the rest of the season, but Al B. has to unleash the Beast at QB from now on.


September 1st, 2012 at 11:44 PM ^

No excuses, Michigan stank up the field, but I really dislike the offensive gameplan. It went out of its way to have Denard throw...he isn't a good throwing QB. He never was, nor will he be. I am disappointed in the fact that Borges couldn't or wouldn't adjust. There are no positives to take from this game. Nothing. There was so little we did right it was embarassing on a national scale.



September 1st, 2012 at 11:49 PM ^

Scheme, sphmeeme. Blocking and Tackling.  They have guys who are better at it currently and were way better at it tonight. 

I can already foresee complaints on here that Denard didn't run enough. Bull. When you play teams like Alabama, you have to win the one on one matchups and make plays when they are there. Michigan didn't do any of those things. 

Playcalling was fine.


September 1st, 2012 at 11:50 PM ^

This. Offensive playcalling was horrendous. Denard was not utilized to his strengths and there was way too much running out of the I. I do see some positives from this game, though. Gardner looked solid at WR aside from his hands needing some work. This would've been a lot closer with Fitz and Countess IMO. Still would've lost, just wouldn't have been as embarrassing.


September 1st, 2012 at 11:51 PM ^

He really did not look that bad. He was frequently rushed and facing pretty complex blitzing packages all game. Few qbs look good against this defense. Had we rushed him, I am not sure he would have been more successful an he may have gotten even more seriously injured. Without a real RB threat, Denard can only do so mug, as defenses can easily focus in on him.


September 2nd, 2012 at 12:00 AM ^

Denard's first carry came when the score was 21-0.  His second made it 31-7.  I know what Borges was trying to do and there were plays to be made (dropped some and Denard missed a number) but we've had trouble implementing similar pass-happy gameplans before (ND, MSU, etc.) and I'd at least like to make a team defend the greatest rushing QB in history once before the game is out of hand.

On the other hand, the game looked a lot worse than it was.  Bama was the better team but we didn't execute early on offense when we had chances to get into a back and forth game, Countess went out and Avery slipped to give them a free TD, and then the picks gave them two more free scores and at that point it was over pretty much before it got started.

Blue boy johnson

September 1st, 2012 at 11:46 PM ^

Mentioned this in another thread, but I found it significant.

I counted 9 true freshman on the field today and that doesn't include Kalis, Chesson and Darbroh

Freshman I saw:



AJ Williams








September 2nd, 2012 at 12:17 AM ^

Thanks.  So in essence those freshmen you listed are not likely to redshirt.

That's rather telling to my eye ... it says to me Hoke sees them as the very near-term future.

So -- in the spirit of celebrating the glass half-full -- we take this as an excellent learning experience and move to the next opponent.  And has been said by many others, Alabama will likely be the toughest opponent we face all year.


September 2nd, 2012 at 12:39 AM ^

I think there is a difference between playing a good team - ala Nebraska or MSU in week one - and the potential best team in the nation this year (Tbd).  Unfortunately my I lost my crystal ball and was unable to loan it to the U of M athletic department to schedule 3 yrs in advance.

I can dream of a RR offense with a Mattison-level D this year giving Alabama a game (but losing)- which was the dream of Mr. Martin when scheduling it. Silly Mr. Martin!



September 1st, 2012 at 11:49 PM ^

Some throws were off, but a lot of that is the result of a scary, insane defense throwing NFL packages at him. He won't face that again, and having done so, he will likely be unfazed by what he does see.

Actually, MSU and OSU have defenses that will probably be just about as good as Bama's. Maybe UM can rent the QB coach who made Taylor Martinez look like Joe Montana today.


September 1st, 2012 at 11:55 PM ^

They have defenses that may be statistically as good as Bama's.  This does not account for the fact that Bama has a much stronger strength of schedule than either of those teams.  We will be able to move the ball much easier against either of those defenses- key word being easier relatively and not necessarily easy overall.


September 2nd, 2012 at 12:46 AM ^

While I cannot dispute the production, the motion seemed very similar to last year to me.

I reserve judgment on TM until I have a few more games proof to support a marked improvement.

- That said, If Burkhead is out for a significant period Nebraska is screwed.  There is no "D" in Nebraska.


September 1st, 2012 at 11:49 PM ^

We got our ass handed to us. Alabama a played a great game which I expected but I didnt expect them to run all over us. We got out coached and outplayed in both phases of the game. Nick Saban proved he is the best coach in the country and they had them boys ready to play. We still can win the big ten without a doubt cuz bama is just one of those teams we cant fu*k with right now and no other team in the country can beat them in my opinion. TJ Yeldon is dat deal

Sione's Flow

September 1st, 2012 at 11:50 PM ^

Well now we know what an experienced and monstrous offensive line does for a team.  Can't wait to see the team in about 2-3 years when Hoke's offensive lineman haul starts to click.  The tackling was bad but Barrett Jones was at the second level the entire game and rarely did any of our d-linemen make first contact to keep the runners from getting up to full speed.  Yeah we took our lumps in this one.  But now we have a little better sense of where the team is and where it needs to be. 



September 1st, 2012 at 11:52 PM ^

Look, it was going to take a stellar performance to beat Bama.  We did not come close to that.  Here are some quick takeaways:

Does Countess prevent the long touchdown pass?  Is he going to be okay?  Avery is a steep drop from Blake.

Denard simply missed on some open routes especially in the crucial first half.  He had decent pass protection...just didn't make the good throw.

Gardner is legit.  Just imagine if he had spent last year as WR.  We are talking all B1G.

I saw some legit running lanes for Denard  had he tucked and ran.  I would like to see more of that.  Why did we not call his number more often?

Missed tackles.....missed tackles......missssssssssed tackles. 

Bama's WR did a great job of blocking down field.  Some blocks were devastating.

Northfleet.  Yes, please!

Wow, we missed Fitz.  Severe drop off with him out.



September 1st, 2012 at 11:54 PM ^

It doesn't matter if you have Barry Sanders or Jim Brown if the defense is in your backfield before your RB even gets up to the LOS. Our OL didn't block anybody on running plays. Rawls looked really slow-footed, but it's not fair to judge him or Smith tonight.

Evil Monkey

September 1st, 2012 at 11:54 PM ^

1. I thought Campbell looked more then solid at the 3 tech. A lot of penetration, okay against the run, and will only get better. Especially against worse o lines.

2. With Gardner out there, are recieving core is fine. He has a presence out there we need.

Bout it. No one else looked special or eye opening. We are gonna be fine (if lewan and countess are back).


September 1st, 2012 at 11:55 PM ^

Alabama and the entire sec aren't competing with the same rules in recruiting that the rest of the NCAA is. That's not me being angry, that's a reality. The whole country knows it, it's just a matter of time before justice will be done upon them. I'm really not even mad, because anyone with any sense knows that something extremely shady is going down at Alabama and the rest of the SEC. They're getting cards from the bottom of the deck, and of course the league has risen up. What else could explain the medioric rise of SEC football? The athletes haven't changed, the emphasis on football hasn't been made any bigger. The only thought that gives me total comfort, is that one day these practices will be punished, and college football will be returned to the student athlete.


September 1st, 2012 at 11:55 PM ^

the LB did not play well at all. no instinct and poor tacklin. we were able to pass protect but our run blocking sucks. the coaches didnt spend enough time in fall camp to prepare or game plan for this game and it showed. team needs to work on tackling.


September 2nd, 2012 at 12:41 AM ^

Ross was out there a lot too (his presence clearly being a reflection on those two, but not sure he did better).  It will be interesting to see the UFR on D.  Don't think the safeties acquitted themselves well either. 

Not sure how it will look, but if I had to guess I'd say the "we got mauled up front" consensus is as much a reflection of some missed opportunities by the second level guys, which is frustrating with so much experience coming back.